This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Learn more

Skip to main content

Talk to an expert 1-800-242-2434 Lines open now

User menu
Sand River Camp
Sand River Camp
Sand River Camp
Sand River Camp
Sand River Camp
Sand River Camp
Sand River Camp
Sand River Camp
Sand River Camp
Sand River Camp

Sand River Camp: Our full report

Sand River Camp is a comfortable tented camp located on the banks of the Sand River.

It is located in the quieter south-eastern corner of the Maasai Mara National Reserve, very close to the Tanzanian border, and is therefore one of the first camps in the Mara Reserve to experience the great wildebeest migration.

Sand River Camp is the sister camp of Elephant Pepper Camp in the Mara North Conservancy, Tortilis Camp in Amboseli and Elsas Kopje in Meru National Park. In 2019 it underwent a total refurbishment and is now a mixture of modern and colonial safari style, giving the air of a 1920’s safari camp but upgraded to the 21st century.

On arrival, guests are given a friendly welcome at the reception area which also has a small curio shop. Gravel and paving leads to the tented lounge, which has comfy sofas and leather armchairs, arranged to create different seating areas to relax and while away the time between safari activities. Oriental rugs are scattered on the dark wood floors and there are bookcases with books and games to keep you entertained and a small bar in the corner. Outside, there are tables and chairs under the trees, and stairs leading down to the river. To the side of the lounge, the dining tent has individual tables – both inside and outside, depending on the weather.

Sand River has 16 guest tents including one family tent. All of these spread out through the bush, along the north bank of the Sand River, and are quite far apart from each other. The camp has been divided into two parts – seven tents on one side of the main area and nine tents on the other. There is a second main area at the eastern end of the camp, which means the camp can operate as two smaller camps when busy, each with their own lounge and dining area. There is a large swimming pool to the side of the main area which has a few comfy sun loungers overlooking the river. When Expert Africa visited briefly in 2019 there were plans to build a second pool closer to the second main area, so that each “camp” would have its own pool. We found it quite a long walk from the main area to the far end of the camp, so dividing it into two gives the impression of being in a smaller more intimate camp.

Each spacious tent is raised from the ground on a low wooden platform and has a separate lounge with a sofa – some which can convert into a sofa bed, armchair and antique writing desk. The bedroom is through a canvas flap, which can be completely opened up during the day, and has a large antique wooden bed surrounded by a mosquito net. The en-suite bathroom has twin basins, a freestanding copper bath and a toilet in a separate cubicle. A glass door leads to an outdoor shower and all toiletries are provided. To the front of the tent, on the deck, are some comfortable lounge chairs where you can relax and enjoy views of the river.

The family tent is similar in décor and style and has two separate bedrooms with a central lounge area in the middle.

As the camp is within the Maasai Mara National Reserve, the activities at Sand River are predominantly safari drives in comfortable 4WD Toyota Land Cruisers. You can opt to head out for a full day with a picnic lunch or do separate morning and afternoon drives. All drives are led by experienced local Maasai guides who know the Mara ecosystem very well. It’s also possible to visit a local village and school from here.

The game viewing is good in this area and it is well known for its large concentration of big cats. During the migration, wildebeest herds often stream across the shallow Sand River from the Serengeti across the border in Tanzania and straight past the camp itself, which can be quite impressive. Bear in mind, though, that these movements are not migration river crossings in the usual meaning of wildebeest swimming across the Mara River: the Sand River is mostly shallow and easily forded by the herds.


Our view

Although we didn’t stay here on our last visit, we feel that Sand River is a very comfortable well-run camp and it’s in a great spot to witness the wildebeest migration during the months of July to September. Although this area will get busy in peak season, we still expect it to be quieter than other parts of the National Reserve.

Olivia Barclay-Hudson

Olivia Barclay-Hudson

Country manager: Kenya

Geographics

Location
Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
Ideal length of stay
3 or 4 nights
Directions
There are daily flights from Nairobi to Keekorok Airstrip and it’s a further 45-minute drive to the camp
Accessible by
Fly-and-Transfer

Food & drink

Usual board basis
Full Board & Activities
Food quality
On our last stay at Sand River in 2017, we found the food perfectly fine, but not particularly imaginative. We understand since the 2019 total revamp of the camp that standards have greatly improved.

Children

Attitude towards children
Children of all ages are welcome at Sand River Camp
Property’s age restrictions
There is no age restriction
Special activities & services
Books are provided for painting and drawing, and board games are available. The staff often invite children to play football in the riverbed when dry.
Equipment
Cots and highchairs are provided
Generally recommended for children
Due to the camp being unfenced, and in a big game area, we recommend it for older children.
Notes
Parents should note that this camp is not fenced, and big game often wanders through camp. Children must always be under adult supervision.

Our travellers’ wildlife sightings from Sand River Camp

Since mid-2018, many of our travellers who stayed at Sand River Camp have kindly recorded their wildlife sightings and shared them with us. The results are below. Click an animal to see more, and here to see more on our methodology.

Buffalo

100% success

Eland

100% success

Elephant

100% success

Giraffe

100% success

Hippo

100% success

Leopard

100% success

Lion

100% success

Spotted Hyena

100% success

Wildebeest

100% success

Zebra

100% success

Aardvark

0% success

Black Rhino

0% success

Cheetah

0% success

Pangolin

0% success

Striped Hyena

0% success

Wild dog

0% success

Communications

Power supply notes
Solar is only provided for hot water. It is possible to charge batteries in the tents.
Communications
WiFi is available throughout the camp, however there is poor cellphone signal in the area.
Water supply
Borehole
Water supply notes
Filtered drinking water is provided in the tents.

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended
Yes
Medical care
There is a clinical officer in the camp and when we visited in 2019 the staff were receiving first aid training. For more serious cases the nearest hospital is in Sekenani at the reserve main gate.
Dangerous animals
High Risk
Security measures
Resident askaris (guards) are on duty day and night. Guests must be escorted from their rooms after dark.
Fire safety
Each tent has a fire extinguisher

Activities

  • 4WD Safari

    4WD Safari

  • Cultural excursion

    Cultural excursion

  • Hot air ballooning

    Hot air ballooning

Extras

Disabled access
On Request
Laundry facilities
Laundry is included in the rates. It is machine-washed.
Money
There is a digital safe in each tent
Accepted payment on location
Visa, Mastercard and Amex are accepted with no additional cost. US dollars, euros, Pounds sterling and Kenya shillings cash accepted.

Other lodges in Maasai Mara National Reserve

Alternative places to stay in this same area.


Rekero

Rekero

Rekero is an unpretentious, high-end safari camp, for travellers who take their wildlife watching seriously and are prepared to pay for an exceptional location.


98% (24 reviews)
Little Governors' Camp

Little Governors'

Little Governors’ Camp sits by a swamp (an old oxbow of the Mara River) in the Mara Triangle sector of the Maasai Mara National Reserve. It has its own balloon-launching site.


97% (15 reviews)
Governors' Camp

Governors' Camp

Governors' Camp is a large tented camp on the Mara River and one of the oldest in the Mara region, dating from 1972. Although unfenced, and regularly visited by elephants, the whole compound is always busy with human activity.


95% (8 reviews)
Tangulia Mara

Tangulia Mara

Tangulia Mara is a rustic and traditional safari camp on the border of the Maasai Mara National Reserve owned by Jackson Looseyia of Big Cat Diary fame.


100% (8 reviews)
Serian Nkorombo

Serian Nkorombo

Serian Nkorombo is a luxury bush camp in the Musiara sector of the Maasai Mara National Reserve on the east side of the Mara River.


100% (6 reviews)
Governors' Il Moran Camp

Governors' Il Moran

The smallest and most expensive of the three camps in the Governors’ group, Governors’ Il Moran Camp hugs a meander of the Mara River just 1km north of the main Governors’ Camp.


93% (3 reviews)
Mara Ngenche Safari Camp

Ngenche Safari Camp

Mara Ngenche is a non-hosted, luxury tented camp with an antique style, which is perfect if you're looking for private dining while staying somewhere small and personal.


90% (2 reviews)
Basecamp Maasai Mara

Basecamp Maasai Mara

Basecamp Maasai Mara is a family-friendly, award-winning eco-camp on a U-bend on the north bank of the Talek River, on the boundary of the Maasai Mara National Reserve.


70% (2 reviews)
Sala's Camp

Sala's Camp

Sala’s Camp is a comfortable and intimate tented camp, with seven tented rooms, located on the banks of the Sand River, in the far south of the Maasai Mara National Reserve.


100% (2 reviews)
Tipilikwani Mara Camp

Tipilikwani Camp

Tipilikwani Mara Camp is a larger, mid-range tented camp offering good value from its base on the Talek River just outside the Mara National Reserve.


100% (1 review)
Mara Expedition Camp

Mara Expedition Camp

Mara Expedition Camp is a small luxury camp located on the banks of the Ntiakitiak River inside the Maasai Mara National Reserve.


100% (1 review)
Mara Serena Safari Lodge

Mara Serena Safari Lodge

Mara Serena Safari Lodge is a large safari hotel with views of the Mara River, in the Mara Triangle sector of the Maasai Mara National Reserve.


No reviews yet
Governors’ Private Camp

Governors’ Private Camp

Located on a secluded bend of the Mara River, Governor’s Private Camp has just eight tents and is booked on an exclusive basis.


No reviews yet
Topi House

Topi House

Topi House is a very good, three-bedroom fully staffed private house on the fringes of the Maasai Mara National Reserve.


No reviews yet
Naibor Camp

Naibor Camp

Naibor has a great location in the Mara reserve, and offers accommodation to suit different budgets, with stylish high-end tents and some simpler ones too.


No reviews yet
Angama Mara

Angama Mara

Angama Mara is a top-end luxury tented camp on the Siria-Oloololo escarpment of the Maasai Mara ecoystem, just above the Mara Triangle sector of the Maasai Mara National Reserve.


No reviews yet

Login to Expert Africa

Sign in with password

Sign in with email link


New to Expert Africa? Create an account

Forgotten your details?

It's free & quick to set up

  • Order a brochure
  • Save your wish-list
  • Send us an enquiry
  • Pay online for your trip
  • Subscribe to our newsletter
  • Give us feedback on your trip
  • Full site benefits of the site

Need some help? Talk to our team

Africa